The new scheme, announced by Gordon Brown, will pay employers who give staff time off to go on free training courses to learn new skills. It will target workers who lack basic skills or qualifications, including literacy, numeracy and basic computer skills.
Gordon Brown said thousands of employers were unable to recruit the staff they needed because training was so poor. The chancellor said the extra investment would help at least 10,000 company take up the Investors in People standard.
Pilot schemes will be launched in Birmingham and Solihull, Derbyshire, Essex, Greater Manchester, Tyne and Wear, and Wiltshire to give financial incentives to small and large firms to give their staff time off for training and to improve their qualifications to GCSE level.
The pilots will start in September and run for a year funded by the Treasury and the Learning and Skills Council.
The government sees public and private sector investment in workforce training as key to addressing productivity issues in the UK.
Research has shown that low productivity levels among UK workers are linked to poor skills and qualifications, leaving output per worker in this country 38% below that of the United States and 15% below France.
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